Labour strategists have been forced to defend the party's web operation after a report assessed how well political parties used their websites to communicate with voters.
The research, conducted by user experience consultancy Webcredible, focused on the ten largest UK political parties. It assessed seven communications-related key criteria - including ease of finding key party information, accessibility of party news and opportunities to contribute content.
On these criteria, the Conservative Party website was judged to be best with a score of 91 per cent. The Liberal Democrats held second place with 83 per cent and Sinn Fein came in at number three with 69 per cent. The Labour Party site was ranked in fourth position with 66 per cent.
But Mark Hanson, deputy MD of Wolfstar and Labour new media strategist, said: 'We're not convinced large numbers of people are piling to the site to decide whether to vote for us. Many people search for our policies on particular topics and our paid/natural search strategy will point them at the right content.'
He added: 'We put a lot of effort into talking to voters on specific issues in the areas where they already congregate through webchats and extensive blogger relations.'
In spite of appearing second in the list, the Lib Dems were criticised for not offering an opportunity for site users to contribute content.
Mark Pack, head of digital at Mandate Communications and former Lib Dem digital strategist, responded: 'The view to user-generated content has a patchy record in the political arena in terms of how useful it turns out to be. I think it's a reasonable and rational judgement for a political party to opt out. It would be wrong to impose one template; the online world is more diverse.'